Group seeks referendum to stop Dallas toll road

| 7/17/2007

A grassroots group in Texas wants to squash the proposed Trinity Parkway toll road project in southern Dallas.

A group calling itself TrinityVote, led by Dallas City Council Member Angela Hunt, is seeking a referendum to get the measure placed on the November ballot.

The referendum will, if approved, ask voters to vote yes or no on whether the Trinity Parkway plan should be scrapped as proposed. The opponents do not want to disrupt parkland with a limited-access toll road with a highway speed limit. Some would approve of the road if it were built as a low-speed access to the park.

The group turned in 80,000 signatures at the end of June, seeking certification. If the city can certify that about 48,000 of those signatures are registered voters – a number that is the required 10 percent of registered Dallas voters – the referendum will be included on the ballot.

“There are only two ways to prevent a toll road from being built in the Downtown Trinity Park,” group leaders stated on their Web site, which can be found here. “The first option is for the City Council to vote to move the toll road out of the park. We know that’s not going to happen.

“The only other option, and the one that we are advocating, is for Dallas residents to demand a citywide referendum on the issue.”

The Texas Department of Transportation, city of Dallas and the North Texas Tollway Authority have proposed the parkway to extend from state Highway 183 to Interstate 35 and merge with state Highway 175 and Interstate 45 in southern Dallas.

The proposed toll road is part of the Trinity River Corridor Project, authorized by public vote in 1998 for the city to spend $246 million to shore up levees, wetlands and lakes, expand parks and construct the Trinity Parkway. State and federal funding, including grants, will total nearly $1 billion, according to the official corridor Web site, which can be found here.

Opponents have raised $198,000 and borrowed $85,000 to pay for their fight against the project, spending $219,000 so far in consultants and workers to gather the signatures.